It should be noted that while the R1 and Japanese R2 releases are uncensored, the show was heavily censored when it aired on Japanese television.
Names are in Japanese order and synopsis may contain spoilers.
The basic premise behind the series is that when a person dies they have a copy of themselves faxed to a weird apartment where they are forced to play a rather twisted game for Gantz; a black orb that distributes weapons, special suits and orders for the upcoming missions.
Missions consist of a group of people who have no real clue what is going on fighting aliens with the weapons Gantz supplies.
One day Kurono Kei is waiting for a train at a train station when he coincidentally meets an old acquaintance from middle school, Kato Masaru. As the two are standing waiting for the train, they see a bum fall onto the train tracks. All of the people in the station just stand and watch as a train approaches. Kato, unable to cope with the callousness of the people, decides to help the bum. He asks Kei to assist him which Kei grudgingly does so. Just as they get the bum off of the tracks and onto the platform, the train arrives. The two attempt to out run the train but are killed… or so we thought.
These two are the first two that we see arrive at the apartment after their ordeals, setting them up as the main characters of the series. In the apartment they are introduced to many other clueless people, all stuck in the same predicament and all Image 1 of 10. Click to enlarge
Image 1 of 10. Click to enlarge
As Nishi, a veteran of the game, gives out a few details, a new player materializes. It is a naked female whom Kurono Kei falls instantly in lust for. This girl is a suicide “victim” by the name of Kishimoto Kei. This sets up the three main characters, Kei, Kato and Kei, for the game of life or death that is to come.
Being from 2004 there are no blemishes to be seen from the source material (no dust/dirt/scratches). The animation and production work was done by Gonzo, best known for the original Full Metal Panic and several others.
The animation is a mix of 2D digitally painted characters on 3D generated backgrounds. The backgrounds, whether intentionally or not, look like what one would expect from a video game. This is either a plus or a minus depending on how you look at it. The character animation is smooth; however I found the character designs uninspired and lame.
The Japanese audio is presented in its original format of stereo, compressed using Dolby Digital Stereo. The English audio is up mixed from the stereo source material to Dolby Digital 5.1. I did not listen to the English track for more than a spot check, so others mileage will vary.
Neither track is all that amazing; however there are no audio issues to be heard either in terms of drop outs.
The first disc and the seventh disc have optional series boxes available. The first box holds volumes 1-6 while the second will hold 7-10.
In terms of video extras, you have clean openings and endings, interviews with Japanese vocal cast, interviews with Japanese directors, Image 2 of 10. Click to enlarge
Image 2 of 10. Click to enlarge
As stated above, there are 2 series boxes available with disc 1 and disc 7. There are also 2 complete thin pack collections available as well, with video extras in tact unlike most ADV thin pack collections.
Each disc has a different character depicted on the cover and on the back there are some screen shots and episode descriptions. These discs also include inserts.
When I saw ADV's marketing strategy for this show, focusing on "too violent for Japanese TV" (there are plenty of Anime censored on Japanese TV if you don't know) to sell the series. It turns out that sex and violence are likely all that could sell this steaming pile.
I hate this show. Not just a little, but quite a lot. It is easily one of the worst shows in my collection.
When I originally began purchasing the DVDs I thought the premise was an interesting one. What I did not know, however, is that every character is completely unlikable and the story is really nothing more than “kill the aliens today while we try to find new ways to shock you.” The only exception to the rule is the dog, which has no speaking lines making it near impossible for you to hate him. When you have your main characters put in a life or death situation, not caring whether they live or die it tens to eliminate any suspense from the show or even a desire to see the ensuing episodes. Apathy in the viewer is the biggest killer of suspense and this Image 3 of 10. Click to enlarge
Image 3 of 10. Click to enlarge
The real story is paper thin and is revealed at a glacial pace. They easily could have wrapped the story up in 13 episodes and not bothered with a second season. Character back story is something they focus on, the problem here is that the characters’ backgrounds are clichéd, uninspired and uninteresting. The other problem is the build up for characters that only last a few short episodes at best, which had me wondering what the point was to give their story at all. I don’t care about the pasts and motivations of characters that are annoying on every level. I’ve been told that each character represents a different human emotion, and I can see that to a point but I can’t bring myself to analyze characters I despise any further.
The story, what little of it there really is when you factor out the characters, could have been interesting if not for the poorly handled and annoying characters.
Gonzo seems to focus on “how can we shock the viewer today” for every episode. I don’t know if this is as the original Manga intends it to be, but it is certainly how it comes off.
The dialog is tired, banal and uninspired and matches the character designs on the lameness scale.
On a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of how much I enjoy a show, with 10 being the best, Gantz scores a 2 at most. Perhaps the Manga is better, but if it ever sees an official English language release or not, I’ll never know.
I hope to never see this show ever again.
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